Iran ready to seek arbitration in Turkmenistan gas row

LONDON (Reuters) - Tehran is ready to file a case with the International Court of Arbitration (ICA) over the quality and price of gas it receives from Turkmenistan, the Iranian oil minister said on Monday, as a dispute between the two nations over payments escalates.

The Central Asian nation stopped gas exports to Iran in January 2017, saying it was owed $1.5 billion to $1.8 billion for gas it had delivered to Iran.

Iran, which disputes the claim, has imported Turkmen gas since 1997 to supply its northern region, especially in winter, even though it has large gas fields in the south of the country.

“They claim Iran owes them $1.5 billion over the gas exports but we believe that figure is not a correct,” Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh said, according to IRNA news agency.

Zanganeh said Iran was ready to take the dispute over price to the International Court of Arbitration. “Our other complaint is about the quality of gas exported from Turkmenistan,” he said.

The managing director of the National Iranian Gas Company (NIGC), Hamid Reza Araghi, had said in December that Tehran would prefer dialogue to resolve the disputes rather than resorting to international arbitration.

Reporting by Bozorgmehr Sharafedin; Editing by Edmund Blair